Tips for riding your bike responsibly and safely at Lake Tahoe
May 27, 2018
Lake Tahoe has a seemingly endless amount of trails and paths for mountain biking and cycling. However, equally important to the "where" is the "how," particularly when it comes to safety and travel etiquette.
Don't be that jerk who thinks you're the only one on the trail or the guy who thinks he can ignore all traffic laws on U.S. 50. Tahoe-based nonprofits offer the following recommendations for biking safely and responsibly.
On the trail
This may sound obvious, but don't take your bike where it's not supposed to be. Stick to public lands and existing trails — do not trespass on private property. If you're unsure, the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) suggests consulting a land manager for clarification. Make sure to have all necessary permits.
Be aware of fellow trail users and yield when appropriate. Riders should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel, according to TAMBA. Riders traveling downhill should yield to ones heading uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic.
Do your best to let others on the trail know you're coming (TAMBA suggests a friendly greeting or bell). If riding in a group, communicate to other trail users how many riders are coming behind you. Obey restrictions and speed limitations.
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Be mindful of the trails and conditions. TAMBA suggests considering other riding options when a trail is wet. Don't cut switchbacks. Practice "leave no trace" and, at a minimum, pack out what you pack in (bonus points for picking up any garbage you may find while out on the trail).
On the road/path
When biking on a road or designated roadside bike path, be sure to travel in the same direction as vehicle travel. As the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition notes, riding against traffic is both illegal and highly dangerous. Motorists are less likely to see you in time to avoid a collision when you ride against traffic.
Always stay to the right, unless you are turning left, passing another bicycle or vehicle, or avoiding hazards. Ride courteously and, if riding in a group, ride single file. Obey all traffic laws. Stop at stop signs and lights, and use hand signals to communicate your intended course. Walk your bike when using a crosswalk.
Make sure others can see you. Wear bright clothing, use lights and reflectors on your bike. LTBC notes that California and Nevada state laws require lights and reflectors while bicycling at night.
LTBC also suggests making sure your bike is ready to ride before heading out. Make certain your brakes and gears work properly and your tires are inflated. LTBC recommends carrying along a spare tire tube and patch kit, and have an air pump.
Most importantly: WEAR A HELMET regardless of whether you're riding on path, trail or road.